Unlike E.F. Hutton, God doesn’t inspire that world-stopping awe from most of the earth’s citizens anymore. We are so wrapped up in going and doing and being and deciding and moving and shaking…well, you get my drift, we don’t even remember HOW to hear Him. When we try, we are often listening in the wrong places. We think we know what He would want and so that is what we “hear”. That usually turns out to be more about what we want, than His will. While I have no doubt in God’s ability to speak audibly from a burning bush, as in the days of Moses, or to pierce through the heavens with a glowing light and angel chorus, I don’t believe that’s a choice He often makes in our present time. And even in Bible times, He often spoke through a person, like Samuel, Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah and many others. He used common men to “speak” to other men. So, while I’m guessing there isn’t going to be a giant pillar of fire “showing me the way”, I do believe, with every fiber of my being, that God still speaks to us.
We all laugh and enjoy a humorous story now and again, but it’s interesting to me that many of them originate from a simple truth. In the last twenty-four hours, I have had occasion to reflect several times on one that illustrates perfectly my belief in the way God speaks to us and answers our prayers. I’m not sure who authored this fine tale, but I’ll bet many of you are familiar with it. It will surely make you chuckle and if you’re like me, may even inspire you to slow down and think about exactly what we hear and yet overlook as we go from day to day.
There was a terrible flood and the terrified man escaped through a second-story window of his home and clambered up his roof, as the waters crept higher, engulfing his house. Perched on the roof, this man prayed for God to save him, rescue him from the rising abyss. Within a short time, a neighbor came floating by in his boat and called for the man to get in, so he could be taken to safety. “No, it’s okay, God will save me.” The man continued to pray for God’s intervention. After a time, a second rescue boat arrived and again, the faithful and confident man, relying on what he believed was a genuine trust in God, sent them away with the pronouncement, “God will save me.” The water continued to rise and it was lapping the shingles beneath his feet, when the man heard the whirring of a helicopter overhead. A ladder was released and over the loudspeaker a voice came, “Climb up and we will carry you to safety.” Waving them away the man replied, “It’s okay. God will save me” and he continued to pray for deliverance. As the water swirled around his waist and whisked him off the roof into the torrent flood, the weak and tiring man succumbed to the murky depths. Upon reaching heaven, he stood before the throne of God, elated to be looking on the face of his Maker. But then, with a puzzled look, he had one question, “Lord, when I called out to you and trusted you to answer, why didn’t you save me?” With love and sadness in His gaze, God replied, “I sent you two lifeboats and a helicopter, but you refused to listen.”
God didn’t answer in the way this man had wanted or expected. He didn’t hear because he was busy waiting for his own idea of “divine intervention”, just like we are often waiting for that “epiphany”, the “big moment” or what many have called a “still small voice”. I’m ashamed to know how many times I have missed God speaking to me through the people and circumstances He has so graciously placed in my daily life, just because my expectations of what He would say or how He would say it were already made up in my mind. I don’t profess to be an expert at “hearing” God, but I do know I want to improve and grow in the wisdom to discern His voice. I am going to be making a greater effort not to “miss the boat”. When God speaks…I’ll listen.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. — Proverbs 14:12
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. — Proverbs 3:4-5
Lord, help me to hear You, in the way you speak, not in the way I think I should hear. I don’t want to lean on my own understanding. Help me to discern the difference between Your will and mine and please open my heart and mind to hearing what You want for me even when it doesn’t fit my preconceived ideas or plan. Thank you for the people and circumstances You place in my life to help me grow and hear You. Amen